Is turnabout on a comb-over fair play? There have been some signs over the past few weeks — even before his credibility was destroyed yesterday among thoughtful voters of all parties or no parties by Barack Obama producing his long form birth certificate — that some GOPers wanted to short-circuit Donald Trump. But now Senator Rand Paul has a challenge to Trump: show us the documents that prove you’re a Republican:
While speaking at a breakfast with New Hampshire Republicans one day after “The Donald” visited the Granite State, Paul riffed off of the potential GOP presidential candidate’s “birther” questions.
“I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,” said Paul, according to The New York Times. “I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.”
Paul’s comments follow up on some GOP-aligned groups’ effort to discredit Trump as a conservative. The free-market Club for Growth has accused Trump of being a liberal for his previous support of universal healthcare and his desire to raise tariffs on China.
Additionally, Republican eyebrows are being raised — particularly among conservatives who no longer believe in compromising with the political enemy, let alone donating to them — by reports detailing how Trump donated to various Democratic candidates over the years. He gave to both parties but clearly favored giving to Democrats, reports say.
But will all of this matter?
The Atlantic’s Wendy Kaminer notes that Trump’s appeal is not to the rational but to the political gut:
Whether or not he attended the “best schools and always did good,” whether or not he was admitted for reasons having little to do with merit, he seems to owe very little to the academic tradition and its regard for reason and facts. Instead he owes his ascent on reality TV and in the increasingly unreal venue of Republican presidential politics largely to the popular development tradition — its preference for subjective statements of belief over mere statements of fact and its celebration of utterly unmerited self-esteem.
Known on The Daily Show as “professional megalomaniac” Donald Trump, he self-affirms to the point of self-parody. His chest-thumping is not exactly a lie. When an aggressive self-affirmed declares his greatness, he probably intends to be offering a factual statement, and it may pass for one among friendly audiences, eager to believe in his leadership and accustomed to accepting the “truth” of personal testimonials.
But whether or not Trump’s fans take all his bombast literally, they do seem to take seriously his questionable claims of high intelligence and an unvarnished record of astounding success.
Asserting his own greatness, his implicit (as well as explicit) message is that he will restore America’s greatness as well. It’s as if Trump’s self-proclaimed exceptionalism would rub off on the nation. A developer who worked with Trump years ago told me that when he walked down the street, strangers reached out to touch him in the apparent hope that success would rub off, which may partly account for his reported phobia about shaking hands — a phobia that makes it hard to imagine Trump actually running for anything, except perhaps a virtual election for Mayor of Jersey Shore, an office for which he might actually be qualified.
All of which suggests that unless Obama flourishing his long form birth certificate does not significantly deflate Trump in the polls — and if the media continues to dutifully report on his assertions and not aggressively enough counter their accuracy or lack of accuracy — Trump will be a force to reckon with.
He’d be a force for the same reason big time talk show hosts are forces:when people see or hear someone who has a charismatic personality who seems on the same political wavelength on TV or the radio they personality becomes a trusted friend and whatever they say MUST be true (and those he doesn’t like must be liars).
So the question is: will enough Republicans part with the comb-over? The Barbour couldn’t remove the comb-over.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.